Sometimes bullying doesn’t end with high school graduation. Do you have any suggestions or advice for dealing with adult bullies in the workplace?
We spend a lot of time looking at bullying in schools and while it is certainly a cause for concern and serious work, I think that adult bullies can be twice as bad. With kids, we can assign consequences. They may not always be effective, but in a lot of cases consequences together with education can curb potentially harmful behavior before it escalates. But what are the consequences for adults? You can’t put adults in time-out and some adults could really use it!
With adults, especially in the workplace, we have to employ different strategies. First, its important to make yourself aware of your employer’s policies on things like sexual harassment. Many employers have begun to clarify not only what is unacceptable behavior in the workplace, but also where you should go to file a grievance. Does your office have a Human Resources department or person? If so, check into what their policies are for dealing with inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
Unfortunately, most workplace bullying doesn’t fall into the sexual harassment category. Instead, you have a performance-based environment where people are competing for respect and position, pay and benefits. Sometimes the workplace itself breeds this type of hostile environment – i.e. male dominated fields such as police stations or maybe car dealerships or female dominated fields like nursing. Sometimes the problem resides with one person and for whatever reason – insecurity, inferiority or maybe just plain meanness – that person has found bullying to be an effective means for getting what they want.
If you’re lucky enough to have an open and understanding boss (and assuming your boss is not the problem), it would be a good idea to have a conversation with them. Approach the situation not as the victim but instead as a collaborator seeking a mutually agreeable resolution to an important problem. If the problem persists, document it. Write professional, dated letters documenting each incident and whatever actions were taken to remedy them. Following your company’s internal protocols for dealing with workplace issues can be really important in maintaining a healthy and stable position for yourself.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to draw clear boundaries for yourself and to enforce those boundaries. Repeat after me…”I do not appreciate you speaking to me like this” or maybe “It is not necessary for you to treat me disrespectfully. I’m sure we can find a way to resolve this issue.” Bullies aren’t used to being challenged and you may find that asserting your right to be treated respectfully is enough to deflect bullying behavior away from you.
Ultimately, you are the only person who is going to advocate for yourself so don’t be afraid to do so. Workplace bullying is rampant and one of the reasons is because very few people stand up for themselves. And those who do are not always met with the support they need. This is a shameful truth, but I hope you will believe me when I say that your mental well-being is very important and if your workplace cannot support that, it may be time to start looking for opportunities elsewhere. Take care of yourself.
Note: You may find the resources at WBI – The Workplace Bullying Institute useful depending on your particular situation.
I recently watched an interview on Fox News (you can see it on you tube). Gene Simmons of the famous rock group "KISS" was talking about his new book. He said some very interesting things in his interview some of which were "women should not depend on men", "you can't have it both ways" (he was speaking of career and children), "women have the option of being the housewife" and "men do not depend on women for anything except sex". I hope you will watch this 10min. interview. I would love to hear your perspective on it. Thanks
It took me a few minutes to find the right clip. As it turns out, Gene Simmons is an expert on a good many topics from relationships to economics and even terrorism. Here is my perspective on the clip you referred to.
Oh, Gene Simmons. I want to agree with some of your points but they are so steeped in sexism that you’re making it difficult. Within the first few minutes of this interview Mr. Simmons says “let’s all agree that women should not depend on men.” (After all, according to Gene, men are immature and will most likely walk out on you). Let’s rephrase: people should become self-reliant and independent. I could agree to that.
“Men MUST work for a living. Women have the option of becoming the housewife.” Ugh. Gene. Your heart may be in the right place, but you spend so much time in this interview patronizing women, reminding us that budgets are complicated and that careers take a lot of time. Guess what, Gene? I feel confident that women have collectively figured this out without you having to give us a refresher.
Gene advises women to make a lot of money and then come to a relationship from a position of power. Ok. I’m almost with you there…except the part where you tell women they can’t have a relationship AND a career and the part where you insist that men are incapable of being mature, emotionally supportive or attracted to a woman for any other reason than sex. After all, men aren’t mature until they’re in their 40’s or 50’s and they are completely powerless to resist the stimulation of a women with makeup and perfume. (*gulp* I think I vomited in my mouth a little bit). Why all the talk of power anyway?
So, let’s take a moment away from Mr. Simmons and talk about benevolent sexism. We all know what to do with a statement like “women can’t do the same jobs that men do.” A statement like this is blatant, hostile, and honestly, we know better (well, some of us know better). As a society, we may have a long way to go before men and women are treated fairly in the workplace (and otherwise), but at least we can treat this type of comment with the proper amount of disdain. It’s benevolent sexism that women AND men must look out for. Benevolent sexism is seemingly positive but perpetuates gender disparities. For instance, benevolent sexism tells us that woman are kinder and more nurturing than men but also weaker. It is the sentiment that reveres women in their roles as wives and mothers, but demands that they “cannot have both” a family and a career – see where I’m going with this Gene?
So, to sum up, let me say two things. First, think critically about the things you hear on TV (or YouTube). The thing that irritates me the most about this type of talk is that people listen and believe without question. And many entertainers, celebrities and political pundits alike, take zero responsibility for the impact their words will have on the people who listen to them. I think Gene Simmons generally means well, but I wonder if he has considered the consequences of his “teachings.” Why must we continue to relegate women to the same old gender roles and, for that matter, why perpetuate the myth that men are inherently jerks (I promise, there are some amazing guys out there and they’ve achieved their amazingness way before 50).
Second, regardless of gender, age, economic background or any other mitigating factors, we (WE) should all strive to be independent and self-reliant so that we have options. Men, women…people. All of us. Rather than seeking to enter relationships from a position of power, we should enter them from a position of stability.
My live-in boyfriend would make the ideal husband, except that he doesn't want to get married. He's kind, generous, thoughtful, gentle, handy around the house, gets along well with my children, and is fun to be with. Whenever strangers see us together, they just assume without asking that we are married. He's never been married before and he has had some commitment issues in our relationship. I could just accept the status quo, which is almost as good as being married, but I'm too traditional to let it go at that. Your thoughts?
Your boyfriend sounds pretty fabulous, perhaps a little too much so (your glowing description hints at a bit of tension – don’t worry, you don’t have to convince me). Have you always known he doesn’t want to get married or is this a recent development? In thinking about your problem, I find myself wondering about you and your position on marriage. Why is marriage important to you? These days, it’s not unusual to find all sorts of relationships that work perfectly well, but its undeniable that marriage holds special significance. I can understand why you might not be able to let it go, despite having a pretty ideal situation. The question is, will marriage be a deal breaker for you and your great guy?
I would challenge you to consider two things. First, what does marriage mean to you? Is it simply an ideal? Or does it represent a level of commitment that you feel is missing from the relationship? You mention that your boyfriend has had commitment issues in your relationship, so I imagine that you might equate his unwillingness to marry you to a faltering in his commitment to your relationship. Second, is your boyfriend’s desire not to be married about you at all? If he’s never been married before, is it possible that he’s afraid of marriage, not because of what it says about your relationship, but more because of what it says about him as a person? Maybe he’s never seen himself as the marrying kind and it’s a tough transition for him to make.
If this relationship is one that you hope will last forever, it would be wise to consider carefully your motivation in wanting to get married. And, of course, you need to talk to your boyfriend, at length. Unfortunately, this is not a small problem and it sounds like one or both of you will have to do some compromising to work through this hiccup in your otherwise stable life together. But that’s the nature of relationships, rolling up your sleeves and doing the work together.
All that being said, I want to remind you that your wants and needs are valid and important. You may simply have to think about how you can reconcile those needs within the scope of your relationship. If your boyfriend loves you as much as you love him, he’ll be willing to listen and to try to understand your feelings. A happy marriage (or relationship) is one in which you both feel that your needs are met and your wants are important to your partner.
I am needing some advice on a potential dating situation. I have been attending a mental health support group meeting for over a year now. Recently a man has joined our group and has been coming for about two months. He is quite attractive and very charismatic and I have noticed that we catch eyes often during our meetings. I was told recently by a mutual friend in the group that he is potentially interested in me. In a normal situation I would entertain the idea of pursing him because I am very attracted to him but under the circumstances of how we know each other I am questioning what the right thing to do is. The factors that I need to consider are he is 18 years older than me, we are both living with mental illness, he has recently experienced a bad break up and we both attend the same support group. The age worries me because I am so cynical and feel that he may only want to pursue me for purely sexual reasons, or as a rebound from his previous relationship. I am afraid that if we were to begin dating our emotional issues would complicate things more so then dating someone who is emotionally stable. Also, if we were to have a falling through or a miss understanding down the road then our support group would not be a safe place for both of us to attend and express our emotions. I need perspective on what you think is ok and not ok about this potential love interest. Should I consider a date if he were to ask? Or should I avoid the situation entirely?
This is a tough question that I think you should break down into two parts. First part, is this is a good guy to date? Whenever you meet someone new and interesting, you take a chance. You can never be sure how a relationship is going to go and so to predict success or failure based on age and baggage, especially with someone you don’t know well, is probably not a very reliable way of judging.
Age can make a huge difference in common interests and relatability, but then again, some of that depends on what kind of a person you are. Are you an old soul? Do you tend to be attracted to men your own age or do you find them to be immature? In my view, age alone doesn’t make or break a relationship. It may, however, present its own unique blends of considerations. For instance, if you are at very different stages in your personal and professional lives, it may affect the activities you like to do or the goals you’ve set for yourself. Keept that in mind.
Then there’s baggage. We all have some (some of us more than others) and again, I think his recent break-up may or may not have an impact on any romantic shenanigans you get into with this guy.
That this guy is seeking help for his mental health issues is actually a vote in his favor. In my experience, it is very rare to find someone who is self-aware enough to recognize that they need help and to take that further step to seek that help out. As it turns out, we have very little way of telling whether someone is emotionally stable early in a relationship so your chances of knowing a little more about this guy’s state of mind is actually better than you’d have with a stranger. And, in theory, you’ll be dating someone who can empathize with your own struggles.
All that said, I think the critical factor here is whether you are willing to jeopardize your current support group situation in order to date this guy. There is just no way to know how it will go. True love, maybe. Potentially awkward break-up, equally maybe. And if that’s the way it goes, you’re absolutely right, it will make the group environment unsafe for one or both of you. So the real question is, are you willing to deal with the fact that you may end up having to find another group as a result? If the answer is an emphatic no, then I’d say to keep things friendly but professional.
There’s nothing at all wrong with dating this guy, but it is good that you are considering the consequences. If you decide to move forward, be honest about your concerns. Maybe you’ll find that he feels the same way and it will be easier to create a strong friendship without taking the romance route. Or maybe you’ll meet your soul mate. Trust your instincts and give yourself permission to make the decision that feels right for you.
Last year I had several separate incidents where authority figures crossed the line with me, harassment issues and an unwanted sexual encounter. I've been somewhat vocal about these incidents. I was honest about it. This has caused me to lose some casual friends. I've lost some credibility, sank into a depression, suffered nightmares, I moved because I didn't feel safe, I've developed trust issues. I could go on and on about the consequences that I've been dealing with, they seem to be endless. I thought that speaking up against these issues was the right thing to do. I've given up on trying to get people to believe me or to simply understand, they just don't. How do I move on from this with a little bit of dignity?
Dear Moving Forward,
You showed immense courage in being open and honest about the things that have happened to you and it is shameful, though not entirely unpredictable, that you are being met with less than the respect that you deserve. We (the collective we) have a hard time understanding the complexities of sexual harassment and sexual assault. You only have to turn on the news to see a culture full of victim blaming and inappropriateness when it comes to matters of sex, intimacy and consent. And sometimes our friends and family don’t know what to say and lean toward avoidance. I’m sorry that this has happened to you and I understand your wish to move forward with dignity.
Luckily, dignity is a feeling of one’s own self-worth, and while I’m sure those feelings have been tested, take solace in the fact that dignity comes from within and can be reclaimed. Recognize the strength that you showed in coming forward and telling someone what happened to you. The vast majority of sexual assault victims will never tell their story but in telling yours, you have taken a huge step toward regaining control over your life and your body.
The anxiety, nightmares and lack of trust you are experiencing are normal reactions to the experiences you’ve described and I cannot stress enough the importance of seeking professional help in dealing with these ongoing issues. Find a local counselor or call your local rape crisis center and ask them for a referral. And give yourself time. Trauma does not heal overnight, especially emotional trauma.
Turn to the friends that have supported you through this and let them continue to support you. While you may have lost some friends, the reality is that those people have shown you their true value as friends. The people who have stuck with you know that you are worthy. They will help you find your dignity in the moments when you feel it is beyond your grasp.
You've come to me looking for perspective, and here it is. You continue to reach out and to speak out which tells me that you want to heal…and so you will. Seek help. Hold fast to your friends. And insist that your boundaries are respected. You can overcome this.
I have been seeing this guy for about a month and we had not had sex until last night. I have intimacy issues due to a past relationship and I was not ready for intercourse. Last night we were at his house and things were progressing toward intercourse and I expressed that I was not ready and wanted to stop. At this point we were both mostly undressed when I changed my mind and told him to stop. He complained to me that it wasn't fair to go this far and tell him to stop. He continued to guilt me and persuade me to continue and I regretfully let him. After he was finished I began to cry and went to the bathroom. I mildly gained my composure and got dressed. He seemed irritated that I was upset and did not ask me if I was ok. I left with an awkward goodbye because I wasn't sure what to do. As of tonight he has not called or texted. I am so lost about what to do or where to go from here. Help please!
What happened to you was not ok and I'm going to be very honest with you. In the best light, it was disrespectful and lacking empathy. In the worst light, I think you could view this as an attack. Sexual assault is complex and more subtle than people usually think. It involves coercion and using manipulation and guilt to get sex counts. Everyone…wait, let me say that again….EVERYONE has the right to refuse to have sex AT ANY TIME during a sexual encounter. That means that even if you are in the middle of intercourse and you decide you are done, you are completely within your rights to stop and to expect that your partner will respect your decision.
The fact that this guy was not sympathetic to your tears tells me that he does not get it. And the fact that he hasn’t contacted you should be the final kick in the pants you need to run fast in the opposite direction.
So, let’s talk about you. I would like you to consider talking with a counselor (your local rape crisis center can refer you to someone who knows what you've been through). You may find that you are able to move forward with ease, or you may struggle. If you struggle, don’t wait to get help. What happened to you was not your fault and the fact that you are reaching out to me shows me that you might benefit from talking to someone who can help you sort through your feelings. Take care of yourself and know that your wishes deserve respect.
I recently started seeing this guy, we've been dating for about 3 months. He is sweet and charming and we have great chemistry inside and outside the bedroom. We are both very adventurous sexually and comfortable with exploring the other's likes and dislikes. One night he invited me to join him and his friend at his friend's house for a movie night. When I arrived both him and his friend were very intoxicated and actively drinking. I myself don't enjoy drinking and chose not to join them in taking shots. Only 15 minutes into the night things became very uncomfortable for me. My boyfriend was being extremely affectionate in inappropriate ways in front of his friend. Even though I told him to stop he continued in making sexual advances towards me in front of his friend. I didn't want to start a fight so I played it off as much as I could and just kept pushing his hands away. When he began undressing me forcefully I said that I was done and left the house as quickly as I could. The next day he texted me as if nothing had happened and only when I brought it up did he apologize. I am still feeling upset and shaken up by the experience and am not sure how or if I should address it with him again. Should I let this go? If I should bring it up with him what should I say? He didn't physically hurt me but I feel taken advantage of. I need an outside perspective, please.
First, let me say that it is not at all surprising that you are still feeling shaken. Your boyfriend put you in an awkward and dangerous situation. When it comes to sex, consent is key and the second you said no and he continued the advance, he crossed a line.
So, there are two things that I want to bring up here. The first has to do with talking to him. Yes, you should most definitely bring this up again and I implore you to use this opportunity to draw a very clear boundary. Regardless of whether you are open to sexual exploration, no means no. In fact, it would be better to think of this in terms of “yes means yes.” Unless you are giving a clear and enthusiastic yes to his advances then he needs to stop and check in with you.
The second thing I want to bring up has to do with your emotional well-being. Bringing up previous openness to sexual exploration makes me think that you are feeling like you may have brought this on yourself. You didn’t. Period. Each time we have a sexual encounter with someone, it is its own unique experience requiring the same enthusiastic yes that every previous encounter had. In other words, just because you did it before doesn’t make it OK this time.
Talk to your boyfriend and maybe look into seeing a counselor, either on your own or as a couple (assuming you want to stay with your boyfriend). Make sure that your boyfriend understands that this behavior is unacceptable and will not happen again. Set firm boundaries. And then talk to a counselor. It sounds like you may need to talk this through in order to feel better. And you should, because you are important and your emotional well-being is worth protecting.
Don't be shy! Say what's on your mind and get a good dose of perspective in return.